Helen & Nigel's Around The World trip 2013/14 travel blog

The boat we took across the lake

Royal palace in Phenom Phenn

Reunification palace - Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon)

Nigel takes on a part time job!

Helen coming out of the military tunnels

The smallest entrance to the tunnels

The war remnants museum - Saigon

Vietnamese water puppets - Saigon

The major landmark at Nha Trang

We had an early departure from Siem Reap and drove to a small port to catch a medium sized motorboat that would take us on a journey across a massive inland freshwater lake called the Tonie Sap. This area had also been effected by the local flooding and we had to negotiate our way around sunken trees and bushes before making our way onto the lake itself. On crossing the lake we eventually turned into a river system. on enerting the river we had to avoid numerous fishermen and their nets. We eventually arrived at the dock where we were met by four motorcycle taxis called "tuk tuks" which drove us into Battambong and our hotel.The total journey took about seven hours.

We went to dinner and tried the local Volcano cooking experience - this involves a mountain shaped gas fuelled hot plate which you cook your ingredients of meat and vegetables, you then add a hot chilli dip and eat this with plain rice. We celebrated another birthday this time Simon's. Unfortunately by the time we had finished dinner the city had shut down and was very quiet compared to Siem Reap and we walked back to the hotel.

The following day we had an 8am start to pick up the Public bus to Phenom Penh, there was a video playing that was reminiscent of 1960's top of the pops with an electric organ, a drum set and a group of expressionless dancers. Nigel didn't make same mistake as last time and stayed sitting next to H.

As the bus filled up and all the seats were taken, a stack of plastic stools appeared and the isle became a seating area. The Main road was single lane but reasonable quality, bisecting miles and miles of paddy fields. Farmers up to their chest in water in the fields. A couple of breaks on the way and a bag of freshly cut pineapple for 30p.

After a 7 hour journey we arrived at our hotel for the next 2 nights and chilled out before meeting for dinner which was the standard menu we have now come to know.

Tuesday 15th October saw the majority of our group opting for a Tour of Phenom Penh. In the morning the tour involved a visit to two sites that explained the harrowing period the Cambodian people went through between 1975-1979 when the Khmer Rouge were in control.

We have decided to limit the description of these sites and we are not uploading any photographs.

On a lighter note we had lunch at a restaurant run by a children's charity on the banks of the Mekong river (using the catch phrase of "it tastes better than it looks") and then visited the Royal palace and the city museum.

Another evening another restaurant and this food fest turned into a pizza eating contest after a little confusion around the size of pizzas we ordered. Helen lost the contest by a mile!

On the morning of Wednesday 16th October we parted company with our excellent Cambodian guide Nak and caught another public bus. This bus was non stop to the border and involved a short ferry trip over the Mekong river.

The land border crossing was quite slow with our fingerprints being taken as we left Cambodia. As our fingerprints hadn't been taken on entry this seemed a little odd.

We had obtained our visa in London so it was just a matter of queuing up and we eventually entered Vietnam - our third country of the trip.

Another couple of hours on the bus brought us to the bus stop in the centre of Ho Chi Minh city. By the time we arrived the weather had changed and a cloud burst had developed. We collected our bags and dashed the short distance to our next hotel.

We checked in and then went on a short city orientation walk before dinner.

This involved a crash course in how to cross a Vietnamese city street during rush hour. The process involves you walking slowly into the road while the mass of traffic is still progressing and amazingly the traffic avoids you as you cross the road.

The advice was only walk forwards and don't run!

Thursday 17th October involved Nigel using his map reading skills as we took a walk around the city using our new founded road crossing technique. We visited a couple of the highlights of the city, the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants museum,

Both of these sights were really interesting as the majority of information was quite anti American. In the evening we went to see the Vietnamese water puppets and then had a couple of beers to celebrate the end of the Cambodia leg.

Friday 18th October was a change over day, we lost three of the group, Nancy, Amanda and Kelly who flew from the airport to their homes. However before we ran them to the airport we all managed a trip to the Cuchi tunnels. This is a tourist sight where you can experience the living and fighting conditions of a Viet Cong soldier. The tunnels are a tight squeeze, (see photographs)

We are currently having a relaxing afternoon having gained another six members of the party to start the "Good morning Vietnam" trip which will be taking us north.

In the evening we will be catching an overnight sleeper train to Nha Trang.

We are both well and enjoying South East Asia very much.

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